Tag Archives: tuscany

The End of an Era

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So it goes.

After ten years, I have decided to resign from my role as an Independent Wine Consultant doing In-Home Wine Tastings for the Traveling Vineyard.

It was a difficult decision to make.

When I first started, I didn’t know if I would like it. But I figured, “What did I have to lose? If I don’t like it, I’ll quit.” Little did I know that I’d not only love it, but I’d also take away so much more than wine knowledge…

I’d make friends with people all over the country with whom I probably would have never met otherwise…

Lisa, Me, Katie - Puerto Vallarta 2007

I’d earn some fabulous trips…

Including those to Sonoma

Where I’d learn to love Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley…

To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico…

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Where we took a break from wine and tasted tequila instead….

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Then, there was Tuscany

Ah… Tuscany… One of the most spectacular trips I’ve ever been on…

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A beautiful stay at Villa Dievole

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Where my husband proposed…

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And then there was Napa….

Which was so much fun that it’s mostly a blur…

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Outside of the trips, being part of The Traveling Vineyard changed my life.

Those of you from my childhood or even high school, know that I was painfully shy. In college, I was even told by an acquaintance that when she first met me, she thought I was just stuck up because I didn’t really say much.

Traveling Vineyard lit something inside me.

I felt good in front of an audience.  (A little wine could always calm the nerves otherwise!).

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I got to teach!

When I was a kid, I loved school so much that as I ascended through each grade, I wanted to be the teacher of that grade! Then, when I hit high school, I realized it wasn’t really about teaching any more. Most kids/teenagers didn’t want to learn. I saw teachers pulling teeth to get the class interested or just to behave. I was even threatened to be kicked out of class once for falling asleep.

I no longer wanted to be a teacher.

But when I started doing Wine Tastings, I got to teach about wine. And I got to teach people who wanted to learn about wine.

One of the greatest rewards was hearing from other people that they never really liked red wine before; but that I had taught them how to like it. I walked them through each wine and explained how to recognize the aromas and flavors in each one so that they could determine the style they liked. I demonstrated that by pairing the wine with simple foods, the flavors could change as well. I gave them the ammunition to become more confident about wine, to describe what they like at a restaurant to get a recommendation, to be more confident in trying new things.

It felt so good.

I met the greatest people. They all loved or wanted to learn about wine!

This included fellow consultants (aka, my Wineaux friends)…

Wine Tastings Hosts…

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and the guests…

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A special thanks to every single host and guest I met over the past ten years! My Traveling Vineyard experience would not have been nearly as enjoyable without you!

And I even got to meet many of the winemakers…

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I earned awards.

I got not only recognition for my efforts, but the fun, friendship and financial reward that came along with it!

So, it was a difficult decision to cut ties.

In all honesty, I believe that The Traveling Vineyard is truly at its height. There is so much room to grow. If I had been putting the same effort as I had just a few years ago, I’d be twice as successful.

But I lost it.

I lost the passion.

I still love wine. I still loved meeting all of the people. I still loved teaching about wine.

Then why?

In 2012, I started on a path to better my health. My health became priority and running became a new part of it. After a herniated disk at the end of the year and back surgery in March of last year, I stopped doing tastings completely.

I needed to heal.

I needed to recover.

And I learned one thing…

I needed to slow down.

For the past ten years, I’ve basically had two full-time jobs. I was very involved with TTV. While there were no minimums to remain active, I did an average of six to eight tastings per month. In addition, each month, I held a Team Meeting. I participated in a Taste of the Business Meeting. I listened to the consultant and leadership conference calls. I taught Learning with Leaders classes. I didn’t miss anything that was offered.

When I slowed down with my tasting events, my husband noticed how much less stressed I was. I had more balance.

But I can’t do anything half-way. Generally, I am “ALL IN” when I’m passionate about something. By slowing down and doing less, I lost interest. I lost the passion. I found I liked the time at home with my husband and my dogs.

Then I realized that I’ve pretty much had two jobs most of my working life. I had summers in high school and college with two, or even three jobs. The same happened after college.

It’s taken me this long to realize that it’s time for me to slow down.

To take care of myself.

To just enjoy life.

It’s a little difficult because I’m so used to being busy. But I’m learning.

2014 is going to be all about self-care.

Traveling Vineyard has taught me so much not only about wine, but about life. The company will always hold a special place in my heart. I would still recommend The Traveling Vineyard to anyone wanting to learn about wine, wanting to earn some extra cash or to take it on full force as a career. I know many consultants across the country and would be happy to recommend someone, if I can, in your area for more info about hosting or consulting.

And with that, I say, “Farewell,” to that part of my life. I have fond memories frienships that will last forever.

Remember… “Over a bottle of wine, many a friend is made…”

~Unknown

Thank you for ten fantastic years, Traveling Vineyard!

Cheers~
Carrie

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Our Absolute Favorite Wines

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Today is our 3rd anniversary – Rob’s and mine, that is. Of course, we’ll be celebrating at one our favorite special occasion restaurants – Perron’s Sul Lago. I just may order a steak – they have the best filet mignon in the entire Twin Cities {and, yes, I have been to Manny’s and Murray’s}.

But it’s Wine Wednesday, so I thought I’d share our absolute favorite wines! These are wines that are so pleasing to us that we will never turn them down. They are ones that are more expensive than you average wine, so we don’t drink them every day. They are not in order of love, but in order of discovery. Enjoy!

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In 2005, I earned my first trip with The Traveling Vineyard. It was to the wine country of Sonoma and I remember thinking about all the times I had been to Europe, but this was my fist ever to California! On this trip, we made a visit the Davis Family Vineyards tasting room. Guy Davis was one of the winemakers and collaborators of many TTV wines. It was in his tasting room that I first fell in love with Pinot Noir. I hadn’t liked the varietal prior to that. And this was also before the big Sideways anit-Merlot and pro-Pinot Noir craze.

Davis Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

(Approx. $40 – $45/bottle)

Davis Pino

At that tasting, I learned why I adored this Pinot Noir more than any other I tasted. Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape. It’s fickle and a hard grape to grow. It’s hard to do it right. Guy has 5 rules to crafting a great Pinot… and I love # 3. So what makes it so great? The best way for me to describe it?

It tastes like velvet.

It has just the right balance of tannins and acidity to feel like velvet on your tongue. That is, a velvet made of fruit and warm spices!

Now, Rob likes to describe Pinot Noir as having a waxy characteristic. Well, for me, that would be the cheap-cheap Pinot Noirs. {In fact, I still have a tough time with some South African red wines that taste like lipstick to me.} I like to describe Guy’s Pinots as dusty. Just the perfect amount of dry. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I truly believe that this wine has made me a Pinot Noir snob.

Guy makes fantastic other wines, but in my opinion, his Pinot Noirs outshine them all. He wins awards year after year after year. And rightly so. But the wines don’t come cheap. That’s the price you pay for expert craftsmanship. Would you pay an Ikea price for a handmade mahogany chest? I walked away from the tasting room that day having joined the Davis Family Vineyards Friends of the Family Wine Club. A year later, I had to cancel because we needed to save all the money we could to buy a house. Sometimes you just have to make those sacrifices!

But, Rob, if you are reading this… A membership to the Davis Family Vineyards Friends and Family club again would make a perfect anniversary, birthday or Christmas gift any year. You know that you will reap the benefits of that gift as well! 😉

P.S. You can’t find this one in stores, so you’ll have to order them from their website.

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Another wine I discovered with my fellow Traveling Vineyard friend, Madeline from Colorado, who was visiting family in town with her husband. We met up at a wine bar and they treated me to this phenomenal wine.

Opolo Mountain Zinfandel – Paso Robles, California

(Approx $25 – $30/bottle)

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Months later my friend Sally took me out to dinner. When I saw this wine on the menu, I pointed it out. The main reason? My friend Sally is the one who got me into Zinfandel! {This ain’t the pink stuff, folks! It’s a hard core red.} I finally found it in a store across the street from the wine bar where Madeline and I had tried it. I just had to introduce it to Rob. I knew he’d fall in love. And I was right.

Months later, Rob and I were invited to Sally and her husband Ryan’s place for dinner. On the way, we stopped at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of the Opolo Mountain Zinfandel as a gift. The clerk there said, “You are lucky this! A lady came in here a day to buy a case, so this is our last bottle!” Whew. Upon presenting the bottle to Sally, she giggled. She was the one who had just bought the case at the wine shop. Yeah. That’s how good this stuff is.

This wine is big, bold and a bit spicy. You’d think it’d hit you in the face with its high alcohol content; but it really is just complex. I love the jamminess, followed by warm spices. It’s exactly how I like my zins. And while the “Summit” version of the Opolo Sin is still good, it’s just not as good at the Mountain!

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And Lastly, is a wine that is very dear to our hearts:

Dievole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

(Approx. $20/bottle)

This wine hails from the Vineyard where Rob proposed in 2008, thus very appropriate for our anniversary. It was another trip I earned through The Traveling Vineyard and, actually, Rob’s first trip abroad. I was completely clueless about his proposal. It was the ultimate surprise.

And even for Rob, this trip was Un. For. Get. Able. and In. Cred. Ible. Barbara MacDonald, who orchestrated the entire trip, could not have done any better. We are forever in her debt. I mean, LOOK at this place! That’s just where we stayed…

In any case, Rob never liked Italian wines before arriving in Tuscany and now he is a life-long fan. I will say that we ultimately agreed that the Italians keep the good stuff for themselves and send the leftovers abroad. 😉

Here’s a bottle we enjoyed at Sul Lago. We can’t find Dievole wines anywhere. So it was a treat that the very first time we happened upon Sul Lago, it was on their menu! Currently, they have this baby Chianti, but the Classico is even better!

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Yeah, these are some of the higher end wines we drink, but because tonight is a special night, we found it important to share.

What is your absolute favorite go-to wine when celebrating a special occasion?

Cheers~
Carrie